Cute chicks, cute eggs, cute bunnies. Easter egg hunts and too much chocolate candy. Strange marshmallow animals that people actually eat, and way too many hours spent by moms and dads on beautifully crafty eggs that kids just can’t fully appreciate.
Is this the meaning of Easter?
Well, no. Some would automatically answer that it is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, yet the practice of Easter goes back far further than Christianity.
In fact it is an ancient ritual that scholars still argue about. Most agree that Easter (the word comes from the Saxon word Eastra) is about rebirth and renewal, and occurred in cultures much older than our own, around the time of the March Equinox.
The celebration centers on the return of longer days. Starting from March 21, the light is equal to the darkness and will continue to gain seconds and minutes until around June 21 when the Summer Equinox happens.
Easter’s goddess is alternatively called Eostre, goddess of Spring, as well as Ostara, Austra, and Eastre. The goddess was often depicted with the hare, an animal that represents the arrival of spring as well as the fertility of the season. So that explains the bunnies.
But what about the chicks? Well, that gets a bit more twisted. In German mythology, it is said that Ostara healed a wounded bird she found in the woods by changing it into a hare. The hare showed its gratitude to the goddess by laying eggs as gifts.
Eggs obviously are a symbol of fertility. What’s surprising is that the ancient Egyptians are said to have colored their Easter eggs, before eating them at the spring festivals!
Whatever its origins, it is nice to bring in the renewal of longer days, warmth, and flowers peeking out. That’s worth celebrating. If you are short on time – Easter’s almost here! – we have a fun way to take out a tiny piece of the stress. Happy Easter Helmet! Instead of buying a basket that might moulder in the attic or basement most of the year, just use a bit of paper straw or grass in your upside down helmet.
The Easter helmet is great for collecting eggs from the hunt or using on Easter morning filled with chocolate and yes, those weird marshmallow chicks. This year, you won’t be able to forget that if Ostara really did change a bird into a bunny and got eggs in gratitude, the Easter bunny bringing a bunch of chicken eggs into the house doesn’t seem quite so twisted.
Or maybe it does, but in a good way. Happy Easter!